During June, I teamed up with one of my amazing coworkers to participate in the annual Overnight Walk. This walk was created by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an organization that helps to fund research for suicide prevention as well as raise awareness and support survivors and those who are affected by suicide. The AFSP hosts these walks every year in a different city, and we were lucky enough for the walk to come back to Dallas this year! My coworker walked many years ago when the Overnight was held here in Texas, and warned me it was going to be a looooong night (but well worth it!).
The Overnight walk starts at sundown, and lasts about 8 hours in total. The trails are created to be anywhere from 16-18 miles, and our trail happening to be right in the center at 16.8 miles. Moreover, we were also challenged before the Overnight walk to raise a minimum of $1000 each to participate. We both hit our goals, which feels absolutely amazing because the AFSP utilizes over 80% of fundraising towards their research and goals.
Let me tell you. The participants at this walk were AMAZING individuals, coming from around the nation with so many stories and personal struggles to share and tell. As someone who struggles with a major depressive disorder on the daily, this crowd of energetic and empathetic participants truly made me feel accepted and not alone. My coworker walked with me as she has been affected in some way by mental illness as well, and we both had an amazing time being able to openly talk about this extremely important and relevant topic. Mental illness is truly a taboo and undermined discussion that absolutely needs to come to light in every aspect of society. Without opening conversation and education about mental illness, mental illness and suicide will continue to have a growing correlation.
We started the walk on a great note! Full of energy and surrounded by excited crowds of volunteers, we were ready to tackle the night. The first few miles were relatively easy, as we were pumped with adrenaline and the giant crowd of participants were still relatively close together. We even veered off track just to grab some extra frozen carbz for the trip…
Mile 3 was a fun pit-stop. In between miles there are groups of volunteers and cheer groups to encourage you on, and most people are wonderful and helpful to bring water and other things the walkers might need! There are also occasional rest stops where volunteers can stop, eat, and stretch before continuing the march.
As the night continued, the discomfort and general exhaustion increased. We kept hydrated and motivated throughout the pit stops and the cheer crowds. My coworker’s husband and mother came to support us, as well as our fellow coworker and her family!!
I won’t lie. I was a total whiny baby throughout the last third of this walk. SO many times I wanted to stop and take one of the provided buses back to the finish line! My hips were extremely tight, my legs were aching, and I was sweating in places I never sweated before… my coworker provided some baby powder at one of our main rest stops, which obviously was pretty helpful…
Eventually, around 4AM, we DID cross the finish line. Neither of us stopped fighting through the discomfort! We ended strong and then collapsed (at least, I did…). Lots of prayer and thanks were given, as we were exhausted and soooo happy to have completed the trail!!
This is an event that I will never forget; I truly want to participate in some way, through volunteerism or walking, every year in whichever city the Overnight is held. It was an incredibly difficult experience, but well worth it as I know the donation as well as the walk was done for a fantastic cause. I can not wait to do this event again, hopefully with my bad-ass coworker by my side once again!